Contributed by Jose Carlos Mendez, Director of Product Marketing, Amdocs.
While we often hear about AI and ML enablement, it is less common to follow the multiple avenues of commercial successes that are created through intelligent automation. Zero-Touch Networks is the name of this new network game.
What is Zero Touch and how is it pushing the industry forward? AI has enabled a lot of innovation, as well as opportunities for CSPs, enterprises and consumers alike. Pushing the boundaries of possibilities for the future of connectivity and the commercial services on market.
The coming of age of zero-touch networks
Networks are finally growing up. Traditionally, each component would require careful attention from experts and specialized engineers to ensure full functionality. Meanwhile, the concept of zero-touch remained simply a dream. Today, the evolution of network technology has reached a level of maturity where the concept has become almost a reality.
Indeed, almost six years after European standards organization ETSI’s Zero-Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM) Industry Specification Group became active, multiple stakeholders are now joining forces to significantly advance this journey.
What is zero-touch?
In its purest form, zero-touch networks seek to enable self-configuration, self-monitoring, self-healing, and self-optimization of a network without human intervention, allowing communications service providers (CSPs) to deliver and maintain differentiated services while reducing cost and increasing profitability.
An increasingly viable goal
For CSPs, the rapid changes overtaking our industry are creating a host of challenges:
- Customers, whether consumers or businesses are demanding agile digital experiences with fast, flexible interactions, whether at pre- or post-sale stages
- As networks evolve towards openness, disaggregation, and programmability, it’s creating increased levels of complexity that challenge existing operations
- With revenues remaining mostly flat – and even declining in some mature markets – its creating a need for additional investments to support growing data consumption and demands for ubiquitous connectivity
At the same time, these challenges have created an opportunity to radically change the way these players manage their networks and services. To capitalize, it requires them to acquire intent-driven, closed-loop automation capabilities across multiple services and network domains, all of which must occur across the entire lifecycle through design, orchestration, operations, and assurance.
AI: the gateway to zero-touch networks
Clearly, achieving fully autonomous networks will not happen overnight. Indeed, according to TM Forum, it’s a journey that needs to take place progressively, across six autonomous levels. Based on recent analyst surveys, most CSPs are currently in the midst of Level 2 – a partially autonomous network, with automation covering the basic execution of specific, predefined repetitive subtasks (e.g. scripts) up to more sophisticated closed-loop operations and maintenance for a few specific domains, based on AI modeling.
This article was originally published on the Amdocs website here on the 13th of February 2023.